The Mars Orbiter Mission story

Imran Khan has directed a short movie on the Mars Orbiter Mission and is now available on YouTube (trailer).

The video helped me relive September 24, 2014 again. On that day, I watched Mars Orbit Insertion from Mumbai while my fiance (and now my wife) watched with her sister in Kerala. On that day, she didn’t understand the importance of the crucial Mars Orbit Mission maneuver. But, she got it only today after watching the video with me today.

Must watch whether you follow space and definitely if you have a partner with whom you want to communicate the enthusiasm for space exploration.

Hi! From Lonar

It’s September. I’ve moved to Lonar and moved my family here for work. It has a hypervelocity crater and the work doesn’t give me too much time to spend there.

Revati

Revati is Zeta Piscium. It is the “star” under which my daughter was born. So, I seem to have a mental filter that catches that phrase in Twitter’s flowing timeline. Emily Lakdawalla of the Planetary Society had posted there on the International Astronomical Union (IAU) naming a few surface features on Charon, Pluto’s moon. She had also linked to the IAU press release on the same.

They had named a crater on Charon, Revati. The press release mentioned that the feature Revati was named after a character in the epic, Mahabharata where she was a time traveller. The excerpt is below:

Revati Crater

I immediately searched on Google for the story of Revati. Emily, meanwhile, emailed one of the contacts mentioned in the press release to ask the source story of the name. My Google search led to the interesting story of Revati.

The story of Revati seems to be straight out of science fiction. She is the daughter of Kakudmi who seems to have ruled a kingdom half under the sea. Her father travels to meet Brahma to seek advice on a suitable husband for his daughter. While there, they listen to a small musical performance. At the end as Kakudmi asks Brahma to choose from a list Brahma states that most of the people suggested would be dead as as they waited there, 27 mahayugas have passed and suggested that she marry Balarama, Krishna’s brother when they return. Does this reference time dilation? When they return, humans are much smaller than them. Does this reference the evolutionary process?

I found the best narrative of the same on another blog, along with an interesting after comment. The comment is below:

Revati Time Traveller

In the meanwhile, Emily got the references and this is more fascinating reading. The book is Vedic Cosmography and Astronomy by Richard L Thompson.

I am a skeptic of the reinterpretations of past treatises using modern astronomy but am equally fascinated by these comparative studies of astronomical treatises of the present and the past and enriched by myths with science fiction elements involved.

Falcon Heavy Launch

If you haven’t seen the Falcon Heavy launch video already on YouTube, you must. If you’ve seen it, it’s worth watching again and again if you like this sorta stuff again and again.

I did not watch the launch live but a live feed was going on as I watched the launch by scrolling back as the vehicle flew to orbit.

It was lovely to see the updates on Twitter (by Elon Musk as well as other space tweeps). It was a lovely accompaniment to the live video feed on YouTube. It almost made it look like that these were tools specifically made for this purpose. Reddit went too crazy for me to meaningfully follow it on mobile.

The launch was spectacular in the following as well. It almost felt as exhilarating as watching the early Apollo missions.

Towards the afternoon Sandhya Ramesh wrote for The Wire magazine answering some of the questions that many people seemed to have had about the mission. Stephen Clark at Spaceflight Now has the most descriptive write up of today’s events itself. I haven’t seen any write up yet about the implications of the launch worth sharing that I’m not already sharing on my Tumblr.

Nokia 6

Purchased a Nokia 6 yesterday from Croma store at Horniman Circle yesterday on the way back from watching the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival.

Back to Mumbai

I went through quite a series of unfortunate events the past couple of weeks which put me off wanting to update anyone about anything. The latest of which has me in bed with a sprain in the back with a very slow recovery.

The only good news has been that I’m back with D and the kid after a separation of 7 months.

In the period while D was away, I expected to be more involved in stuff I was interested in. But, I went through a deep dive asking myself what I really knew about things I prided myself on knowing. The answer came back as not much. So began a process again of narrowing focus and looking at things I wanted to take deep dives in and things that just infatuated me at that moment.

I think back now on the 7 months as lost months where I lost an opportunity to know things better than I already had. Now, the focus is on the kid and I’ve put aside my own interests. Focussing on work and home and more on home than work.

October 20, 2017 Mumbai

I dreamt of PSLVs

So, last night I dreamed of PSLV. The PSLV-C39 mission failed a few days back and it’s possible return to Earth has been in the news for the past few days. ISRO has been putting updates of it’s fuel being vented and a possible crash landing in the Pacific Ocean sometime in the next two months.

I dreamed that the fourth stage of the PSLV landed on the street in front of my apartment building, trashed a few trees and landed right near the gate of the temple nearby. The priest, who it nearly missed by inches, thought of it as divine intervention and immediately started performing rituals. Awoken by the sound from my afternoon slumber, I looked out and identified the PSLV from the Indian flag and the national emblem emblazoned on it but kept quiet.

A few minutes later members of the emergency services tried to isolate and retrieve the object, thanking the gods for saving so many lives. To their astonishment the early morning temple goers cordoned off the area and refused to co-operate in any effort to move the object.

The rituals went on till the early morning resisting all efforts of the emergency services to retrieve the object.

I have no recollection of the next few steps I took, but I was speeding down NH-47, the fourth stage on the back of a truck. I then spent the next 4 years building a PSLV in Palakkad. After 15 launches of my re-hashed version of the PSLV, I sit on a porch reading the front page of The Week calling me India’s answer to Elon Musk. Thankfully, I woke up by this time.

ഓണം ആശംസകൾ

എല്ലാപേരുകം എന്റെ ഹൃദയംനിറഞ്ഞ ഓണം ആശംസകൾ.

മലയാളത്തില എഴുതുന്ന ശ്രമം തുടങ്ങി രണ്ടു വര്ഷം അഴി. ഓണം ആയതിനാൽ ഇ ശ്രമം പുതുക്കാന് നിശ്ചയിച്ചു.

ഇത് എന്റെ അദ്യതെ പോസ്റ്റ്.

Vikram-Vedha (2017)

(This is not meant as a review of the movie. There may be spoilers.)

Vikram-Vedha found mention in today’s Indian Express which reminded me that I also meant to write about it here. Better late than never.

This is how Shubhra Gupta writing in the Indian Express summarizes the movie. The article also mentions Angamaly Diaries, another movie I loved but didn’t get to writing about and other regional language movies.

…the Tamil language Vikram-Vedha directed by Pushpa-Gayatri: it’s gangsta-and-cops-and-robbers aesthetic is shot through tactics that immediately make you sit up and take notice. R Madhavan plays the cop-who-thinks-he-is-always-right with a swagger. Vijay Sethupathi’s bad guy out-swaggers the policeman.

I loved Vijay Sethupati in this movie. His entry scene in the movie received a lot of whistles from the audience and reminded me of Reddington entry scene in The Blacklist. The movie moves from the black and white chor-police narrative to one which goes into the grey shades. Intertwined in this is the classic Vikram-Vetaal of my childhood (whose introduction theme scared me) of question and answers, which leads the investigation forward and introduces the grey element. The connection is brought by Sethupati asking Madhavan “Oru Katha Sollutta?” (Tamil: Shall I tell you a story?), which is how Vikram-Vetaal stories also move forward.

The movie ends with a question that is not answered. Only Tamil movies have this realistic element. It leaves the answer to the question open to the movie-goer. It says not all questions have an easy solution. It is the grey that we have in Society today. Not everyone is purely white nor purely black. Everyone is a shade of grey. We can’t make out how dark these shades of grey are. All we can do is do the best in the given in situation and know that we have no control on the outcome.

I watched the movie at Cinepolis in Chembur, Mumbai on July 28, 2017.